16 Ways To Improve Your Feedback Skills in the Workplace

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published October 9, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published October 9, 2020

Giving feedback in the workplace means communicating an evaluation of a situation or specific job task with an employee or coworker. Feedback is an essential tool for growth and improved work performance, and both employers and employees can benefit from positive critique sessions in the workplace.

Whether you are heading a team or assigned to manage a specific project, you can provide positive comments and effective critique that can motivate your employees or coworkers. In this article, we explain how you can provide effective feedback to all employees.

How to provide effective feedback in the workplace

Here are 16 ways you can give effective feedback at your workplace:

1. Be specific

When providing feedback, use precise language that explains both positive work performance and areas that need improvement. If you give praise, tell the employee what was great. For example, “The way you explained our customer service was clear and engaging. I could tell the client was interested.” Discuss problems using exact instances and solutions. “Last week you turned in two late assignments, so I'd like us to discuss ways to organize your day to maximize what you can achieve.”

2. Create goals that match your feedback

As you discuss work performance, make specific goals that help both parties determine if expectations are being met. Give directions for what you want to see in the future using clear steps with actionable items. Decide on a reasonable timeframe to complete those steps, and set a time to revisit those goals at regular intervals in the future.

For example, if you give feedback about sales quotas for the next quarter, your goal could be to reach a specific amount of money or a certain number of sales through increased marketing communication and networking.

Related: How To Write SMART Goals (With Examples)

3. Give feedback one-on-one

Praising or giving critique is best done one-on-one instead of in a group or social setting. While some employees may enjoy the attention of praise in front of coworkers, others may feel embarrassed, or those listening may become uncomfortable when the praise isn't directed at them. Others may need time to process a critique. Choose a time when you can focus one-on-one with the receiver and consider their needs.

4. Share both positive and negative feedback

It's best to give both positive and negative feedback because positive feedback helps foster a sense of trust, showcasing that you notice and value a job well done. Telling an employee when they've done well can motivate them to continue good work in the future.

Critique is also necessary to improve work performance and help an employee grow. A critique that is coupled with praise helps an employee identify their strengths and see growth areas as an opportunity to earn more positive feedback in the future.

5. Offer feedback often, not just during milestones

Frequent and relevant feedback is beneficial for all involved. Creating an open atmosphere where discussion is expected and encouraged on a regular basis helps diffuse tension that can build up if feedback only happens once a quarter or even during annual reviews.

When you give regular feedback, you can also identify and fix issues sooner, improving the overall work environment. One of the most effective methods of feedback in the workplace is a continuous dialogue that helps set realistic expectations and goal-focused work.

6. Practice active listening

Be open to listening to the employee and adjusting your discussion accordingly. Pay attention to the recipients' needs while still addressing the focus of your meeting. When possible, plan action steps together. Allow the feedback recipient to offer their own ideas and solutions.

7. Focus on specific behavior

When delivering constructive feedback, it's important to use language that focuses on specific performance behaviors. Leaving personality traits out of the discussion promotes a more professional work relationship and a safe place for helpful critique that leads to positive change.

For example, instead of telling an employee that they tend to interrupt clients, you can say “I'd like you to listen to the customer first to communicate and better understand their needs.”

8. Leave emotions out

Regardless of your feelings about the coworker or employee, remain objective about a situation as you give a critique. Consider waiting 24 hours to make sure the circumstances are still relevant but not near enough for tempers to flare as you discuss the matter.

9. Use performance data to back up your ideas

Data provides a better source of critique or praise because it focuses on information related to a behavior or an incident instead of feelings. Using data to guide a discussion can also help create actionable goals that can be clearly measured in the future. This can include work samples, specific performance data or client feedback.

10. Mentor with your feedback

Giving effective feedback in the workplace allows you to show an employee that you value their contributions and want to see them grow. No matter their job title within the company, be a mentor who encourages them with both praise and critiques. Managers and team leaders can use feedback sessions as an opportunity to add new responsibilities for an employee.

Related: 10 Common Leadership Styles

11. Ask questions

When discussing performance, let the recipient speak as much as possible. Asking questions allows an employee or coworker to feel like they have a voice in their feedback. Make objective statements that allow for discussion or ask open-ended questions that get the recipient to talk.

  • Example of an objective statement: "According to your timesheet, you've clocked in late five times this month."

  • Example of an open-ended question: "How would you talk to our new client about a contract renewal?"

12. Deliver group feedback when applicable

When a critique relates to a team, you can give feedback to the entire group at once. Deliver feedback that addresses how the team's effort is impacting the work. After the session, allow the team to take ownership by creating a task force or special project group to brainstorm solutions and action steps. Consider meeting with team members individually after giving a group feedback session to clarify specific performance based on an individual's role in the project or process.

Related: How To Manage a Team

13. Schedule a follow-up discussion

After making specific actionable steps, it's important to revisit goals in a timely manner. Even when things get busy, set aside time to discuss progress and set new goals as needed. This solidifies the importance of feedback in the work environment because, when follow-through is expected and anticipated, both parties are more invested in the outcome of a feedback session.

14. Choose empathy in your response

Consider a situation from the employee's perspective, and let this empathy guide how you speak to the employee. Try approaching feedback in the workplace as a conversation instead of a lecture. Discuss common goals and use language to support this idea. For example, if an employee has made a mistake that affected customer relations, allow them to explain their interaction with the customer and how they handled the situation.

Listen to why they made the error. Next, invite them to think of solutions that can help repair the relationship with that customer.

15. Maintain consistency

Give constructive feedback in the same way to all employees that report to you. Establish fairness by consistency in the way you approach both praising and critiquing job performance. Document each feedback session so that if any questions arise, you can point to a balanced system of discussion for each employee.

16. Meet in person when possible

When you deliver feedback face-to-face, whether in an office or via video conference, you are better able to effectively communicate using the tone of your voice and eye contact to connect. This can help make the listener understand and feel more comfortable instead of just reading your words in an email or chat. If an informal setting is appropriate, consider going out for coffee or a meal to discuss feedback in person.

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